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does it make a difference that the 401k grows tax deferred vs. my personal investment portfolio does not? (does it influence the type of investments I would make in either?)

Yes it does. Typically investment vehicles that throw off a lot of short-term gains and non-qualifying dividends should be in tax-deferred accounts, while non-tax deferred accounts should be used for investments that will be held for long-term capital gains, and don't throw off the type of income mentioned above.

Here is a list of types of investment vehicles (stolen from another post a while back ;-) which has the LEAST tax efficient at the top:

(Least tax-efficient at the top):

Hi-Yield Bonds
TIPS
Taxable Bonds
REIT Stocks
Stock Trading Accounts
Small Value Stocks
Small Cap Stocks
Large Value Stocks
International Stocks
Large Growth Stocks
Most Stock Index Funds
Tax-Managed Funds
EE and I Bonds
Tax-Exempt Bonds

1. Put your most tax-inefficient holdings in 401ks, 403bs, Traditional IRAs and similar retirement accounts.
2. Put your next most tax-inefficient holdings in your Roth.
3. Put what's left into your taxable accounts. Try to use only tax-efficient funds in taxable accounts, or hold stocks for required long-term capital gain period.

I see my 401k as a "retirement" account (aka long term) where my individual investment is shorter term than that. In other words, let's say 5-10 years.

Well, long-term gain rates currently kick in after a holding period of one year, so you shouldn't do shorter-term trading than that in your taxable account, unless it will get you a short-term LOSS (IOW, you lost money on the trade).

When I rebalance my portfolio, usually once a year, I try to accomplish it using my tax-deferred accounts if the trades are going to be short-term. Naturally, because of the limited fund choices available in most 401Ks, this is not always possible.

or whetehr I need to bolster my retirement/401k account with an individual retirement account where I have complete flexibility in investment.

If you qualify to contribute to a Roth, I would suggest that you take advantage of it. Initially you might want to use the Roth for REIT holdings (which throw off a lot of income). You can also use it for short-term trades with no tax consequences to you. This is the advantage of having IRAs of either type, but the Roth is much better because you don't pay tax upon withdrawal. Also, under certain circumstances you can withdraw funds from a Roth before age 59 1/2, unlike a traditional IRA. Off-hand, I don't know all the rules--You'd have to investigate them in Pub 590 at the IRS website.

I use my TIRA to hold REIT funds and Small-Cap stock funds, and also use it for rebalancing whenever possible, because short-term trades have no tax consequences.

For the young, some financial advisors suggest contributing first to your 401K up to the company match, then funding a Roth, then funding the 401K with any remaining dollars. If there's anything left after that, use it in a taxable account. If I could, this is what I would do.
(I can't because I don't qualify for a Roth)

Hope this helps,

2old
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